Beyond the Education Wars

How Smart Schools Upend the Business of Reform

A bestselling business journalist critiques the top-down approach of popular education reforms and profiles the unexpected success of schools embracing a nimbler, more democratic entrepreneurialism

“The best article ever about New Orleans charter schools.”
—Diane Ravitch, reposting Andrea Gabor’s Newsweek feature “The Great Charter Tryout”

Offering a fresh take on the endless battles over school reform, in Beyond the Education Wars journalist, bestselling author, and business professor Andrea Gabor argues that despite being championed by the likes of Bill Gates and Eli Broad, the market-based changes and carrot-and-stick incentives informing today’s school reforms are out of sync with the nurturing culture that good schools foster—and at odds with the best practices of thriving twenty-first-century companies as well.

Gabor instead makes the case for seeking solutions from those closest to the problems through a collaborative, grassroots approach—modeled in part on the open-source software movement—that allows the most constructive ideas to bubble to the surface. In fact, the solutions borne by this philosophy are right here, all around us: in Brockton, Massachusetts, where the state’s once-failing largest high school now sends most graduates to college; in a group of low-income New York City schools where maverick principals have pioneered new curricula and flexible scheduling; and in Leander, Texas, where continuous school improvement is being spurred by the philosophy of quality guru W. Edwards Deming.

A welcome exception to the doom-and-gloom canon of education reform, Beyond the Education Wars makes clear that what’s needed is not more grand ideas, but practical ways to grow the great ones schools already have.